Name: Harold Dieterle
Neighborhood: West Village
Occupation: Chef/owner of Perilla, Kin Shop, and the Marrow, currently finishing his first book. Winner of season one of Top Chef. On Thursday, August 22, you can catch him alongside a long list of chefs including Jimmy Bradley, Leah Cohen, Dale Talde, and more at the annual Taste of Tennis banquet, hosted by Serena Williams and Marcus Samuelsson.
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Probably John McEnroe. He’s my tennis idol. I was actually a very serious tennis player in high school, except I didn’t want to be a very serious tennis player — I wanted to be a chef. [McEnroe’s] super, super ridiculous and sarcastic, but his bark is much bigger than his bite — he’s a nice guy and a gentleman.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
I’ve eaten at Stone Barns a couple of times, and it was probably about two years ago in the fall. I had a really great meal there.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Nothing fun, really [laughs] … I run around amongst the restaurants and put out fires.
What was your first job in New York?
In general? I was a dishwasher at a marina called the Gull in Babylon when I was 14. I lied about my age. It was off the books and five dollars an hour. At the time I was like, “Holy shit, this is great. Oh, and I can try to get a staff drink at the end too? This is awesome.”
What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Nothing. My wife has a list of shows she wants me to go see, but I’m trying to dodge it.
Do you give money to panhandlers?
What’s your drink?
Gin and soda, Hendricks. It started out as Captain Morgan and Coke with lime. Then that became too sweet, so then it became a gin and tonic, and that became too sweet and was keeping me up at nights, and now it’s just gin and soda. Soon it’s gonna be just gin.
How often do you prepare your own meals?
Oof, maybe once a month. I feel like it happens more in the fall and wintertime, when we stay home more. I make simple stuff: I like to do roasted chicken. My wife does lasagna and pasta Bolognese and stuff like that.
What’s your favorite medication?
What’s hanging above your sofa?
We have these antique window frames or something — I don’t know, my wife takes care of the interior design. I just pay the bill.
How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
I used to get a $12 buzz, but I’m trying to grow up a little and have an adult haircut, so I think I spend $40. I go to a place called Moustache.
Probably around 2 a.m.
Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
Neither. I kind of have agoraphobia, and areas like that I have no interest. There’s times I spend months at a time where I don’t go above 14th Street if I can help it.
What do you think of Donald Trump?
He’s got a very political hairstyle.
What do you hate most about living in New York?
The space is challenging: The cost per square foot of everything, from residential to commercial real estate, can be frustrating.
Who is your mortal enemy?
When’s the last time you drove a car?
About a week and a half ago, going fishing in Montauk.
How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
It happened right after we were probably six months open at Perilla, and it was my first restaurant, and I knew nothing about running a business, so I was pretty freaked out. It was a challenging year, for sure.
Times, Post, or Daily News?
Where do you go to be alone?
I don’t know, the bathroom? I mean, I’m married, and there aren’t a lot of alone moments for me when I’m at the restaurants, so that’s about it. The bathroom.
What makes someone a New Yorker?
I think New York’s a welcoming city and a melting pot. I don’t think you need to be born here to be a New Yorker. I think you’re a New Yorker if you want to be a New Yorker.